Troy Gondola

Cindy Altomari

Exploring Teaching


Experience through Education

I was born in Hackensack, New Jersey but I live in Little Falls New Jersey. If you don’t know where Little Falls is, it’s about a twenty minute drive from New York City to put in perspective. My town has three schools in its district. School 2 is Kindergarten to Second grade, School 3 is third grade to fourth grade, and finally School 1 goes from 5th grade to 8th grade. Being so close to the city you think our town would have a somewhat diverse atmosphere but actually we only had one African American family, a few hispanic families, and the rest were white families. In terms of religion it seemed that every kid was some sort of christianity, until when they stopped having santa claus coming to our school because some parents didn’t want him coming because they weren’t as religious and also we had one family in town her jehovah’s witnesses and they put the end to all that because they don’t believe in any holidays, birthdays, or when every morning we would salute the flag, he would just do nothing and we didn’t know why until we were older. Being from North Jersey especially so close to New York City the size of our town was very small considering our neighboring towns where they have multiple high schools. Our town only has 15,000 which is very small considering Newark which is a city only 10 minutes away has almost 300,000 people. In terms of economic level I would describe Little Falls as a simple town that does very well for itself going in its own direction. The town is divided into three sections and based on how much money you had is where you lived. They were called Singac, Center of town, and Great Notch. The type of High School that I went to was a public high school and its name was Passaic Valley Regional High School. The school was composed of Little Falls, West Paterson, and Totowa. My graduating class was around 400 kids and everyone pretty much knew everybody. My High School wasn’t the typical high school you find in other places. Like most high schools they focus so much on the math and the sciences, at PV it’s the complete opposite. The arts and humanities are the two biggest forces. We have sculpture, ceramics, portfolio, drawing, painting, and even 3D art. Also our theatre department puts on four shows a year that are always sold out. More people go to the art show or plays than any other sporting event and i would know because I was captain for volleyball and we went to county’s. Instead of plain white walls in the hallway, we had murals depicting anything the students wanted and could be changed as much as they want. There was no bullying at all because we had one of the most strictest school disciplinarians who would hand out detentions and suspensions on the daily.

School came pretty easy to me, getting good grades and having a good time as well always hanging out with my friends either in the city or at my house. When i was younger in middle school they said I wasn’t smart enough to be in the advanced math class which actually made me cry and I told my mom all about and she said things happen for a reason and it all makes sense now to me. I took algebra freshmen year and fell in love with the subject because the teacher was so awesome, she made think about doing math in college. Since i was thinking about that i decided to double up on math and take geometry and algebra 2 sophomore year and then take pre-calc and prob stat junior and that’s where I met one of the most influential person of my life, Mrs. Brown.  Prob and stat was a senior math class making me the only junior and the first ever she said to because she has been teaching for almost 40 years. She treated me almost like family. Sometimes if she didn’t eat breakfast she would ask me to go across the street to the bagel store and buy her breakfast and she would always give me a twenty dollar bill and say get something for yourself. She was just a genuine person who was the sweetest and nicest you’ll ever meet and know in your life. Mrs. Brown sadly was not the healthiest person you will meet either. You wouldn’t believe it but she was very overweight, always had a cough, and even had narcolepsy. Sometimes she would fall asleep in class during a test when it was quiet. She only taught class twice while standing. But that never stopped her teaching. She took her time with every lesson and made sure every kid knew what they were doing before the test. She could always make you laugh and enjoy the class. We talked about everything to each other. I know this lady is almost 60 years but she felt like one of my friends who i cared about.  Junior year has ended and senior year is here. First day of school I say hi to Mrs. Brown because her classroom was right in front of my locker and we chatted every day in the morning and when we left also. And two weeks into school she had her incident in the parking lot, she fell over and hurt herself. She was out of school for about two months until she had a heart attack and left us. I couldn’t believe it, it was hard not seeing her or even hearing her anymore. Death is never easy to handle but this one was different because I have never had a teacher die before and it shook me up pretty hard. I went to her funeral and wake and met her mother and husband and sat there crying and listened to i believe i can fly in the church for two hours. And now coming to college and doing my first stats assignment, I called my mom crying asking her to send my stat notebook. I still wish she was here one more time. She’s a huge reason on why i want to become a teacher. The way she impacted my life is how i want to impact my students one day. My second incident that occurred during my life was the death of my best friend’s father and my mom is best friends with the wife, We have been going on vacation together for over six years. We rent a beach house on an island off north carolina. I met jessica in kindergarten and we were the two shy kids that stuck together as best friends all the way up until 8th grade. When high school started, i knew it was going to be different because jess decided PCTI instead of PV because her dad was a gym teacher there. He was the healthiest gym teacher you will ever know. Not an ounce of fat on him and never went to the doctor because he never got sick. I missed her of course and everyone else did too from little falls. About four years ago they decide to not go on vacation with us but they went the same week as us. Tammy and the kids go to the beach and jimmy stayed back before he met up with them. He goes to lie in bed and instantly dies of a heart attack. Imagine the scene where you have to come home and you think they’re sleeping but they’re never going to wake up. We were the first to get the call and I sat down and said stop lying that doesn’t even make sense, it’s impossible. Tammy said God pushed the wrong button because his name was the same as his dad and dad was one of the nastiest person you will ever meet and the complete opposite of his son. I don’t know why but for some reason the people i always love go because of their heart.

This last section of what school is all about is up in the air. It can mean something different for everybody whether that’s becoming more social, broadening your horizons, or simply educating yourself. For me its much more than that.